California Water Mismanagement Called Out by Lawmakers

Brian GermanIndustry, Water

Several lawmakers point to California’s water mismanagement as being one of the biggest hurdles that growers are dealing with. The issue was highlighted during a press conference at the World Ag Expo. Several members of the House Ag Committee joined Speaker Kevin McCarthy to address the challenges facing American producers. Water availability and management were focal points brought up by multiple congressmen. McCarthy specifically spoke to water regulations in California as putting a particular strain on agriculture.

Water Mismanagement

“It’s not the struggles of human nature, it’s actually the struggles of government from Sacramento and Washington that won’t make the investment in storage but talk a big game. Where Gavin Newsom will pick fish over people in the allowing of the pumping of the water to come down,” McCarthy noted. “As the water comes down through the Delta, does it go out to the ocean, or does it come to the Central Valley and Southern California for the population and actually for the land itself so we can grow?”

During the press conference, McCarthy said that government often becomes more of a hindrance than a help. Pointing to the visible snow in the mountains behind him, McCarthy said that inaction to update water storage in the state will result in a wasted opportunity. Congressman John Duarte also did not mince words when referring to water mismanagement in the state. 

“The data is in. We’ve depleted our aquifers. We’ve destroyed our farms. We’ve left America hungry with out-of-control inflation,” Duarte noted. “The water woes of California today are not the cause of an imbalance of fish versus humans. They are the cause of an anti-human, environmental establishment that will push working families to the edge of privation, destroy abundance, and destroy affordability.”

Duarte is no stranger to navigating challenging water regulations. The congressman spent years in a dispute with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after plowing his wheat field and being cited for violating the Waters of the U.S. Rule. Congressman Doug LaMalfa also spoke about the water challenges in the Sacramento Valley during the press conference. Noting his background as a rice farmer in the Butte County area, LaMalfa said the state is not taking advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves. 

“We have an amazing resource in this state, with the water supply. Even in drought years. Yet, we’re watching it all be flushed out to the ocean,” said LaMalfa. “I’m hoping we can get San Luis Reservoir filled down this way to help the folks in the southern part of the state. Because we’re all in this thing together. It’s not southern versus north. It’s really us versus government and the mismanagement of our resources.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West